It’s Thursday afternoon in sunny Shanghai, and I’ve brought the good weather with me. It’s 13 C / 55 F and quite nice out today. It also helps to finally feel human again after the wicked night at the bar when I first got here.
This place is amazing. It’s grown so dramatically over the years that skyscrapers are built next to tiny houses. Business culture right next door to local restaurants. There’s tall buildings as far as I can see from my 32nd floor hotel room – and apparently, most of it wasn’t here four years ago when Mintel started to think about opening an office here. My hotel room is nice – and apparently I’m the first person to ever stay in it. When I arrived, the hotel staff couldn’t get the electronic key card to work. Then once we got that done, the door was jammed open, and it took a grumpy staff person and his screwdriver half an hour to fix it.
The activity in the area is non-stop. People are generally really nice to me and I can survive without knowing any Chinese. There’s lots of places around here catering to Westerners who are looking for a bit of familiarity. Yes, there’s a Starbucks. I paid 28 Yuan for a grande latte, which is $4.10. On the contrary, we went to a local place for lunch and paid 22 Yuan for a dish, soup and a tea. The Western places are all several times more expensive than the local value. Lunch was delicious. There’s a huge demand for food places around here, so they’re tucked away in every corner. We went to a place today which apparently used to be a wedding hall. Now they serve lunch as well. It was delicious food – pork and sausage with steamed veggies over rice; I think the soup was pork as well, with some tofu and some sort of vegetable what I’ve never seen before. The people here know how to eat. The owner of the shop was a rather loud lady who gave us a bit of a hard time and scribbled the Mandarin symbol for “foreigners” on the bill after one of the guys tried to haggle with her on the price. Good laugh :)
It’s Tie Thursday here in Shanghai. I came in this morning looking sharp and we all had a good laugh, and I announced that next Thursday will be International Tie Thursday and I’m going to get the team to all wear ties. Today I’m flying solo and trusting that my American colleagues don’t let me down.
Learning lots about how the team here is run. We’re developing software as specified by Project Managers in the UK, so our process and planning has to be so much more tight and practiced. We’re getting much better at it over time – the team here now has a bug fixing process as well, which is amazing. I’ve tried managing developers remotely and wasn’t very successful at it. The operation here is big enough and much more structured, and as a result we’ve made it work. I’m impressed. To make it more challenging, the overlap in office hours is even less between Shanghai and London vs. London and Chicago.
Team in Chicago is being amazing. Some trouble has come up while I’m out of town, and I’ve been able to leave it all to the team there. I owe some drinks when I get back to Chicago.
Have to go make my NCAA picks now, talk with London folks, and complain more about Cfengine. Red Wings played the Caps today while I was eating breakfast, and they won in the end – nice way to start the day. A Tigers win over the Twinkies would be a nice one to wake up to on Friday…get ’em, guys! Don’t give those damn Minnesotans an inch!